Studies of Pediatric Liver Transplantation 2002: patient and graft survival and rejection in pediatric recipients of a first liver transplant in the United States and Canada.
Studies of Pediatric Liver Transplantation (SPLIT) is a cooperative research network comprising 38 pediatric liver transplant centers in North America. Data from the 1092 patients who have received a first liver transplant since 1995 were analyzed for factors influencing patient survival, graft survival and acute rejection. The 3, 12, 24 and 36 month Kaplan-Meier estimates of patient/graft survival were 90.9/85.5, 86.3/80.2, 84.3/76.0, and 83.8/75.3% respectively. Univariate analysis identified initial diagnosis, type of graft (whole vs. living and cadaveric technical variant), growth failure and continuous hospitalization or ICU admission prior to transplantation as significantly influencing patient and graft survival. Subsequent multivariate analysis identified as risk factors for death: fulminant liver failure (RR = 3.05, p < 0.05), cadaveric technical variant grafts (RR = 1.95, p < 0.05), continuous hospitalization pre-transplant (RR = 1.79, p < 0.05), height deficit >2 s.d. from mean (RR = 3.22, p < 0.05). Risk factors for graft loss included: fulminant liver failure (RR = 2.27, p < 0.05), cadaveric technical variant grafts, (RR = 1.97, p < 0.05). Eleven percent of the 1092 patients were re-transplanted; vascular complications, particularly hepatic artery thrombosis (8.3% overall; 36.3% of graft failures), were responsible for the majority of re-transplants. Infection was the single most important cause of death (40 of 141, 28.4%) and was a contributing cause in 55 (39%), particularly with bacterial or fungal organisms. The cumulative Kaplan-Meier estimates of first rejection at 3, 12, 24 and 36 months were 44.8, 52.9, 59.1, and 60.3%. Initial immunosuppression with tacrolimus reduced the probability of rejection (RR = 0.62, p < 0.05). Eleven percent of rejections were steroid-resistant; chronic rejection led to 7 of 121 (5.8%) re-transplants. The SPLIT registry, in compiling data from a large number of centers, reflects the current outcomes for pediatric liver transplants in North America.